Kids Get Moving Thanks To Kids Run RVA Coaches
By: Faith Hecht, Youth Programs Coordinator
It’s 7:20am on a crisp and sunny morning in late October 2016 when I pull up to the back parking lot at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. As I arrive, I notice a handful of cars and a few munchkins in school uniform gathering near the softball field. They are standing just below a sign that reads “OUR LADY OF LOURDES LIONS RUNNING CLUB.” I’m in the right place! As I look beyond the field, a few small faces have already started. They jog, chat, and giggle in their little uniforms, making their way around the dirt and cinder track built around the fields and through the trees near the school. Within minutes, the parking lot slowly fills. Kids come from all directions, exchanging kisses with parents before they dump their backpacks and hit the dusty track. There they go!
At the center of all of the commotion? Annette Sirica, longtime physical education teacher, cross country and track coach, and run club coach. Don’t let her quieter demeanor fool you—she runs a tight ship around here. She is accompanied by a handful of parents and grandparents, walking and running with the kids, sending out encouraging words, handing out popsicle sticks at each lap’s completion, and in complete control of what an outsider might consider a chaotic scene. It is just another loud, joyful, energetic morning of run club here.
The Lions meet every day before school. EVERY DAY! And guess what, the children come! They come early, they come often, and they run. Run club is open to all students. During fall and spring, attendance averaged 45-60 young runners from Pre-K through eighth grade. During colder months, the average dropped a bit to 20-36 students per day.
According to Sirica, the purpose of run club is to promote fitness in children. They aim to have a positive and non-stressful environment in the hopes the students will develop an interest in the sport of running. “We hope that our runners will enjoy the challenge of running and racing, and seek out opportunities to participate in community events,” says Sirica. “We also encourage families to run or walk together.”
Many Benefits to Run Clubs
The best thing about a morning run club? These kids begin their day with something positive, which is important to all students, but is particularly key for those who may struggle academically. Teachers at Our Lady of Lourdes are fans of run club, as they see students come into the classroom after their morning activity more attentive and ready to learn.
This scene plays out all over the Richmond metro area. Every day, kids lace up their shoes and join run club for some miles, some companionship, some goal-setting, and just some fun. During the 2016-17 school year, Kids Run RVA supported 69 run club across the region, from Powhatan to Fairfield Court to Beaverdam to Petersburg and places in between. All with loving, dedicated, motivated, nurturing, and attentive volunteer coaches, the backbone of our program. Coach Sirica is but one in an army we are proud and grateful to have behind us. Their quiet yet important work has touched kids of all abilities and given them a place to have fun as well as a place to belong and to set and achieve physical goals.
The 20 to 30 minutes students spend completing laps, either running or walking, passes quickly, until it’s time to finish up, collect the incentive they have earned for the day, and load up with backpack and lunchbox in hand to head into school.
Fast forward to late May 2017. How many miles has this group logged? They are not kidding around. Our Lady of Lourdes’ 143 run club participants ran a total of 12,149 laps. This equals 3,471 miles during the 2016-17 school year!
Become A Coach
Run clubs like the one at Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic School aren’t possible without the dedication and commitment of volunteer run club coaches. Kids Run RVA is looking for individuals who are enthusiastic about helping coach at school and community-based kids run clubs. The primary role coaches play is encouraging physical activity to youngsters in a nurturing way. Previous coaching experience is not necessary but a passion for running or jogging is preferred.
Click here to apply to become a volunteer Kids Run RVA run club coach. Your application will be used to help us understand your specific interest and availability, which will then help us to find the run club that would benefit the most from your coaching. Applications are being accepted through September 3rd, so don’t delay–apply today and start your journey towards helping the youth in RVA!